Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to kick off a week-long expo on Monday that promotes his country's status as a major consumer of the world's goods.
The opening speech comes a day before Americans head to the polls for midterm elections, and amid growing bipartisan criticism of China, particularly over its treatment of foreign companies and intellectual property. The major Chinese event, however, will seek to position the country as an importer of goods, drawing in top executives in the process.
Although plans for the China International Import Expo were announced more than a year ago, the event will stand in contrast to Beijing's ongoing trade fight with the United States: President Donald Trump has targeted his country's $375 billion goods trade deficit with China by levying tariffs on an extensive list of products. China, for its part, unsuccessfully tried to negotiate on tariffs by offering to buy more U.S. goods, but ultimately responded with duties on products from the U.S.
"It's about the Chinese being able to take ownership over the approach to these discussions," said Peter Alexander, head of consulting firm Z-Ben in Shanghai. He noted that if Trump and Xi come to an agreement behind closed doors at the G-20 meeting in Argentina later this year, it will appear the Chinese conceded to the U.S.
Such a G-20 outcome is anticipated by some, but China can use the expo — and the 40th anniversary of reducing state control on the economy — to tell the world it is still moving forward with plans to buy more, Alexander said. Then, he noted, the Trump administration will need to respond.
The expo is set to draw more than 2,800 companies from more than 130 countries to Shanghai from Nov. 5 to Nov. 10, according to official figures.